Specialty Food Health Gems Spotted

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There were aisles of candy, cakes, cheeses and animal parts being carved at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco mid-January that I was happy to gloss over in my search for what’s new and healthy in the specialty foods industry.

Here are some of the trends and gems I spotted.

“Dippity” do dah all day.

People have really gotten into “dipping” and there are plenty of foods to facilitate this compulsion with more dips than ever.  There were even foods re-shaped just to be dipped. In addition, meal replacement, protein, collagen and other powder companies are suggesting you can use them not only for smoothies, yogurt, hummus or soups but as dips for most fruits and veggies.

Not your average bowl of soup.

We know that soup is good for your diet and many believe it is good for your soul. Sometimes it can create a feeling of nostalgia, but oftentimes we don’t have the time to round up all the ingredients and prepare our favorite homemade soup. Now retailers are making modern changes to the classic dish that are making it easier for us to enjoy.

“People need easy meal ideas, but they want to eat healthy and delicious food as well”, said Jon Anderson of Frontier Soups. The company is cutting down the time it takes to make homemade soup with its collection of 36 soups, stews, chili and chowder mixes inspired by homemade recipes and contains all natural ingredients with no added sodium, preservatives or MSG.

It’s a simple equation: Really unique flavors + Really healthy veggies + Really convenient = Souperb Soups.  Founded in 2012 by Joanna Terry, the San Francisco based company’s soups are all handmade in small batches in their professional kitchen. All of the Superb soups come in recloseable containers, are made with natural ingredients, are gluten free, and some flavors can even be eaten cold.

ZÜPA NOMA is uniquely changing the way we enjoy soups by taking soup out of the bowl and eliminating cook time so you can enjoy it sooner. Their collection of sipable soups come in vertical bottles-similar to your plastic water bottle — filled  with a variety of soups that are guaranteed to not only be nutritious, but also delicious. All you have to do is open and enjoy!

Get the energy you want and the nourishment your body needs.

Whether you’re getting ready for a workout or trying to fight that mid day slump, retailers are noticing that we are looking for ways to keep our energy and focus high throughout the day. Instead of reaching for a coffee, candy or sugar energy drink manufacturers are creating products that give you the energy we need, but also nourish the body.

Whether you’re getting ready for that 5k, working in the yard or just preparing for a long day at work Reliant Recovery Water will keep you hydrated and happy to be active,. Their patented electro-kinetic modification process provides a refreshing beverage that will reduce physical stress, accelerate muscle recovery, and increase your body’s resiliency.

Hemp2o  is an organic, herbal, vitamin beverage that does not contain the THC found in Marijuana, but hemp-seed extract. Like flax or chia seed, hemp seed oil is very popular as a fortified food and is bursting with Omega-3’s that will provide heart health and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Drinking a Hemp2o will regulate mental health and provide energy while also nourishing the body.

Apple Cider Vinegar gets more palatable

For centuries vinegar has been highly regarded for its superior health benefits but unfortunately disregarded because of its taste. Today, retailers are putting their own spin on vinegar drinks to create more appealing ways for consumers to ingest and take advantage of its health benefits.

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar is continuing its legacy by creating its Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar from healthy, organically grown apples. Bragg’s products provide many internal and external health benefits and have been recognized as the best and an industry go-to.

After spending two months refining oak barrels,  Olitalia’s Vinegar is created. This medium-to-high density balsamic vinegar featuring a complex, full and balanced flavor provides a new way to marinate your meats, dress salads, and reap the health benefits of vinegar.  The company is introducing DrinkVinegar Fruit Flavored Drinks which add extra nutrients known to help reinforce a healthy lifestyle and trust me it tastes uniquely great.

The Mind Your Manna Fire Brew is an apple cider vinegar-based health tonic is a raw, organic vinegar that is steeped for 4-6 weeks in an abundance of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices (that are hand chopped, shredded, juiced…) for optimal health benefits. Made with habaneros, horse radish, lemons and apples, it isn’t a relaxing sipping vinegar, but it can be sweetened with honey or cut with your favorite beverage and be delicious and it pulls double duty as it can be added to foods.

Anyone can eat vegan

As more and more people become more vocal about their food preferences, more and more retailers are catering to consumers who formerly made up a minority. An example of this type of consumer is the vegan and retailers are creating an abundance of products geared to towards their tastes.

The potato chip has been a staple in snack culture for a long time and now Vegan Rob’s is recreating it with vegans in mind. Available in flavors including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and wild mushroom, Vegan Rob’s chips are made with natural vegetables, are gluten-free , and are certainly a snack you can enjoy guilt-free.

When you think Snow Monkey Superfood Ice Treat-Think ice cream that is good…actually great for you. Using the slogan “If nature didn’t make, we don’t use it” this scrumptious ice cream-like treat is packed with protein, antioxidants and fiber.  Currently available in two flavors (CACAO FOR YOU and HELLO GOJI-OUS) made with recipes that are energizing, cleansing and free from major allergens.

Many dream of a butter that is dairy free AND healthy and MELT has made that a reality. MELT is made from what they consider the perfect blend of organic oils and it eating it  supports health when replacing other dietary fats in your daily diet. MELT Organic delivers an ideal combination of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for optimal nutrient content. MELT is a butter you can indulge in because it is delicious without worry.

The next wonder vegetable

There were a number of new Cauliflower products but none were as delicious, clean or nutritious as Cali’Flour.  Cali’Flour makes it easy to replace flour with cauliflower for unexpected great flavor, texture, clean basic ingredients and nutrients without gluten and low in carbs.

Favorites From The Heartland

If you’ve been to a country fair lately you’ve seen the lines for beer bread – a little known specialty of the Heartland where beer is the secret sauce for baking because it gives it a hoppy kick.  With craft beer all the rage, the recipes are endless.  Molly & Drew Beer Bread is less dense than your grandmother’s and has the slightest touch unexpected satisfying sweetness.   It’s also much easier to make with the Molly & Drew kit, all you need it a 12 oz bottle of beer.   You can use it for flatbread, pizza crusts, muffins, bread sticks, and stuffed pies.  Molly & Drew also make a Pinterest-ready mug cake for one.   Mix it with a 1/4 cup of water, heat it 90 second and eat it.

Trade up your condiments

Producers are creating their branded  foods and condiments  that are updated version of the classics we love –think ketchup, mustard, mayo ect.- in hopes they better the consumer’s eating experience and become staples in their pantries.

Traina’s California Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup  is a combination of century-old family traditions and classic ketchup seasonings created ketchup with tomato lovers in mind. This ketchup allows you to pour the savory, rich, gourmet taste of Sun Dried Tomatoes on all of your favorite foods. It takes 16 pounds of fresh tomatoes to make one pound of sun dried tomatoes, so that means every bottle of  California Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup, packs in the equivalent of over four pounds of Roma  tomatoes giving you a difference you can taste.

Raising the bar on bars

It’s not uncommon for many who need  a midday pick up or have the need to fight hunger that occurs between lunch and dinner with a protein bar. Food retailers are taking note of this demand and creating a variety of bars ranging from basic, with only a few ingredients, to more complex bars that contain many ingredients, to cater to the varying tastes of the consumer.

Primal Kitchen’s line of perfectly balanced paleo bars are changing the way we snack and get our daily dose of protein and other nutrients. Flavors like Macadamia Salt and Dark Chocolate Almond  are providing consumers with 15 Grams of Protein from Collagen, Nuts and Seeds, and only 3 Grams of sugar. Since they are gluten, grain, dairy, whey and soy free, these bars a healthy snack everyone can enjoy.

For your daily dose of 2 servings of fruit try That’s It.  These bars make it easy to get the 2-a-day you need  in convenient way with great taste and portion control.

Berry Love

You can use dried fruits to give that extra flavor to your salads, muffins or have them as a healthy snack the possibilities are endless when it comes to dried fruits and Stoneridge is setting the bar high. Stoneridge’s dried fruits are handpicked and harvested, all natural, gluten- and preservative-free and kosher. From cherries to peaches, and some available yogurt covered, Stoneridge soars above the rest.

The Food Industry: Inspiration to Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship is rampant in the food industry and more start-ups are emerging with hopes of creating better experiences for consumers and leaving their mark on the industry.

Zia Valentina Espresso Bar & Conery is making a delectable mark on how we enjoy espresso. Their collection of edible espresso shot glasses are made out of chocolate and waffle cones. Simply indulge in a shot of espresso and then eat the cup made with an outer layer waffle cone and chocolate inner layer.

What’s in the jar?

We are finding more and more of our favorite foods in jars. Jars are better for the environment and having the least effect on the taste of foods; more consumers are inspired to use them to contain their creations.

Inspired by picking pickles as children, brothers Joe and Bob McClure used their great grandmother Lala’s recipe to start McClure’s. Their all -natural, gluten-free and kosher certified collection of  pickles, relish, bloody mary, all-natural chips, are made with  the best, freshest produce available and  hand packed every time.

Tonnino is changing the way we see tuna by putting in jar. Available in 8 flavors from spring water to jalapeño each delivers a fresh taste of yellow fin tuna. Besides flavor and top quality tuna, it gives back to the environment by being 100% dolphin safe and shows commitment to the consumer by allowing them to track where exactly their tuna was caught.

The mission of Bell Plantation is to help family farmers improve their profitability through the development of consumer-ready products from commodities grown on the farm.  Their PB2 is peanut butter re-imagined! PB2’s freshly roasted peanuts are pressed to remove 85% of the fat and calories and it can be mixed with any liquid to make a spread, eaten straight from the jar or added to recipes for a rich nutty flavor.

Savannah Bee is the leader in honey purity standards and views honey as a fine wine that is created from flowers instead of grapes. Along with creating classic jarred honey the company is redefining honey with their variations of the popular treat with their whipped honey.  The whipped honey collection is all natural, spreadable and can be added to pastries, tea, or jazz up your favorite tonic.


Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend Nancy Trentwatcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm.  Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives.  A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com.  You may also visit http://www.trentandcompany.com.

NOTE: WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.

Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 3/1/2017

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